Rogers' Around the Bases
The second day of the season is over for many teams around the country, while others out on the West Coast are continuing action. Though most favored teams are taking care of business this weekend, others have upset on their mind.
Here are some early thoughts on Saturday’s action.
* Georgia Tech had an outstanding ace pitcher last season in right-hander Deck McGuire. He obviously signed as a first-rounder last summer, but now the pitching staff rests on the shoulders of junior left-hander Jed Bradley. Boy, did Bradley impress in his first start as the Jackets’ premier pitcher. The lefty struck out 10 batters and allowed just a run in 5 2/3 innings. Though Kent State is a solid team, it’ll be interesting to see how Bradley fairs against St. John’s versatile offense next weekend.
* LSU outfielder and top junior prospect Mike Mahtook continues to impress through two games this season. Mahtook hit two homers in the Tigers’ season-opening win over Wake Forest, and added another home run in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Demon Deacons. With the Tigers losing sluggers Blake Dean, Micah Gibbs and Leon Landry last summer, they needed Mahtook to get off to a hot start this season. Now, it looks like the outfielder is ready to take his production to another level. Mahtook’s further rise is a huge development for LSU.
* We might as well get the discussion out of the way. Texas right-handed pitcher Cole Green surprised everyone last summer when he turned down a significant offer from the Detroit Tigers to return to UT for another season. Well, Green’s senior season didn’t start on the right foot, as he allowed six runs in just four innings of work on the way to a surprising loss to the Terrapins. One outing is just one outing, but it’ll be interesting to see how Green’s senior campaign progresses. For now, chalk it up as a bad outing.
* It’s going to be incredibly difficult to keep St. John’s out of our rankings next week. The Johnnies just continue to crush the baseball. They began the Big East/Big Ten Challenge by crushing Big Ten favorite Minnesota, but continued their impressive ways by demolishing projected Big Ten runner-up Michigan 13-6 on Saturday. Joe Panik was fantastic at the plate and Stephen Rivera was fantastic out of the bullpen. Ed Blankmeyer always has done a very nice job with the Johnnies. Now it looks like he has a team capable of doing bigger things than the program is accustomed to.
* Color me extremely impressed with how Florida is handling its No. 1 ranking this weekend. It can’t be overstated how important it is to stay focused on the task at hand. You see many teams that enter the season highly ranked, but squander away opportunities as the season progresses. Florida certainly isn’t out of the woods yet, but it is looking good right now after silencing South Florida in a 4-1 victory. Sophomore pitcher Hudson Randall was fantastic on Saturday and relievers Nick Maronda (a top prospect) and Tommy Toledo took care of business. Love the composure and poise of this team through two games..
* We’ll have much more later tonight on the Rice-Stanford series, which was evened on Saturday when the Owls captured a 7-1 victory over the Cardinal. Stanford starting pitcher Chris Reed had good raw stuff, but was erratic at times and got behind in the count. Rice junior pitcher Matthew Reckling was another story. Reckling finished last season with a 6.32 ERA, so it was interesting the Owls put him in the weekend rotation this spring. Well, don’t question coach Wayne Graham. Reckling was very good in his first start, striking out four and allowing just four hits in six shutout innings. Reckling was 88-92 for most of the day. Very impressive start for the righty.
* To cap off my early thoughts on the day, I’m going to give you a really good and really bad on the day. In the good department, give Virginia a pat on the back for its impressive 13-2 road win over Auburn with starting pitcher Tyler Wilson leading the way. On the bad side, Georgia and Clemson deserve a spot in timeout. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-2 on the year with a 7-2 loss to Stetson and Clemson fell at home to Eastern Michigan.